I Struggle and Juggle – The Truth About Being a Mum of Young Kids Today

mum juggling bals of work, husband, kids and freindsI am a mum of 2 gorgeous young boys, wife to a lovely husband (well most of the time), part-time marketing professional and Innate Health Teacher and I juggle and I struggle. I love my boys and my jobs and my husband and I struggle.

I struggle on days when I am trying to get the kids out the house and my eldest son doesn’t want to go to school and I have to perform every parent gymnastics trick in the book to get him there until suddenly he has a change of heart and is happy to go. Then I enjoy the moment of his returned good mood and I wonder at it.

I struggle on days when I have to do a last minute nappy change before we leave and the bus won’t let me on because there are already two buggies on board.

I struggle  on days when it all runs smoothly but I’m in my head about being on time and getting them there and I feel like I’ve done 5 rounds with Mike Tyson by the time I’ve got to work, when in fact I’ve just done 5 rounds with myself.

I love my kids and I struggle. There’s a facebook group for mums called ‘mums that hide in the loo.’ Well I’m a mum who howls in the kitchen. Just to let off steam and occasionally have a sneaky bit of chocolate to keep me going – you understand. Sometimes I even have some that’s left over from the boys party bags (well better my teeth than theirs!).

And I howl to myself and I struggle and I love my children and I treasure the moments we have together because I know it’s precious.

I struggle when I look at Facebook and I start to compare myself to what others are doing. Then I remember that just like me people are only ever posting what they want others to see and that brings me back to the present and I’m OK again.

I juggle and I struggle and sometimes when I’m juggling I don’t pay enough attention to something and I drop a ball, mess up and innocently hurt people. I take responsibility for what I’ve done and I apologise. But I don’t drive myself crazy with guilt like I used to because I know I would be causing myself pain and why would I want to do that to myself anymore?!?

I struggle and I learn. I learn from my gorgeous young boys who for the majority of the time live in the here and now and not in their heads. They are upset about something and they express this clearly and then they are not, they’re onto the next thing.

And I see that I like everyone else on this planet am only ever living in the experience of my thinking. That I’m doing the best I can given what I know to do in the moment. I know that my kids will do what they do and if I’m in a bad mood I’ll see it in a bad way and if I’m in a good mood I’ll think it’s funny and this frees me up. – Because I know that my experience of my kids comes from me and not from them.

And I notice that when I’m seeing life as it is and not as it isn’t. – When I’m present to what is happening now and not lost in my head I savour all life has to offer and I love my kids and life even more. And I notice when I’m lost in my thoughts of how life should be, what’s happening, not happening, if we are late or not, have I left something behind, are my kids OK? Am I OK? Did I get enough sleep? Did my husband get enough sleep? Did I do/say the right thing/the wrong thing?  Where’s my phone? Etc etc ad infinitum I’m distracted and I miss out on the beauty and the wonder of life.

Sometimes when I feel like I’m struggling I can see the habits of thought I’ve created. – For example  when I’m judging myself for something I’ve done or said and then feel bad as a result.  I say to myself here I go again… and I can be OK with myself for doing it, give into it and accept it and it passes quickly. Sometimes I can’t and then I struggle. But now the more I see these habits and I notice the thoughts that I trip myself up on, the less likely I am to believe them the next time they pop into my head.

You see we all have 100,000’s of thoughts a day many of which we don’t notice, and the ones we do and pay attention to give us our experience of life.

Life is precious. Time with my kids is precious and the more I’m truly with them, not distracted by my thinking, the more I enjoy them, appreciate them and love them for the wonder that they are. -How they know what to do to get on in the world without being taught. How they learn to walk and talk and become little people, from their infinite wisdom. The infinite wisdom we all possess that as adults sometimes gets clouded over by the habits and constructs of how to do life that we have unknowingly built up over time.   Well those habits and constructs are just that ‘constructs’. If we can notice that we have built them up then we can knock them down again just as easily. – That to me is one of the keys to living life with less and less struggle.

So I may have the same worrisome thoughts I’ve always had but I don’t experience the same physical sensations; the palpitations, the lack of sleep, the sudden stomach cramps, because I see them for what they are – just thoughts and I don’t trust them so much. As a result I don’t get so entangled in their web that would tighten around me the more I got interested in them and that would lead to my physical discomfort. This is in itself is a blessing.

So I have admitted here that I struggled and I still do but for far less time and with less impact than I have ever done at any point in my life since I was a child. Because now I see my ‘struggle’ for what it is, my own creation and that beyond the so-called ‘struggle’ there is always a light guiding me back to the beauty of the here and now.

If anything I’ve written resonates with you and you fancy joining us and a community of like minded familes in the beautiful Lake District  to reconnect to what’s really important in life  then join us at the 3 Principles Family Gathering. Find out more here.

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Moods – Lessons From A Tired 4 Year Old Not Wanting To Go Home

dark clouds raining down on my 4 year oldSo I’ve just started a contract working 2 days a week and then 1 day a week I work for myself. This means that my eldest who is 4 and half has to join his brother at the childminders after school at least 2 days a week until 5.30pm or 6pm.

So last week I went to pick them up and I noticed he was a little upset about a Halloween bag my childminder had kindly got them both for a present. He didn’t want his and he was very upset when I insisted on taking his brother’s one home because he didn’t want him to have one either!

The bags had pictures of bats and spiders on, and I sensed this may be scaring him. As we were walking to the bus in the dark and the rain he got upset and told me he didn’t want the bag at home and I should throw it into a bush. I said no and told him that the bags just had pictures of bats and spiders on just like the pictures he drew of bats at home. He said no they were real and the rats he saw were real and everything was real, real, real!!!

We proceeded to have a ‘profoundish’ conversation about this for 5 minutes before we got into ‘I don’t want to go home, I just want to stand out in the rain!’ which he kept repeating and repeating and repeating! He looked so sad and tired all I felt was love and compassion for him so I kept reassuring him and saying ‘I know, I understand’ and then encouraging him to walk on. I then explained how it wasn’t good to stand out in the rain as we may get cold or worse and our feet would hurt, but he went on and on and on! Continue reading

Lessons From Chicken Pox – Going With The Flow Of Life

Chicken pox!!!!Just over a month ago my eldest son got chicken pox. He was OK and it cleared up with 7 days.

The trouble was the week after he got it me and my husband were due to go to The 3 Principles Conference an annual event organised by Tikun (where I used to work) where the best teachers from around the world come to teach. We had managed to get childcare lined up for both boys for the 3 days and we were really looking forward to it.  As aside from getting to see all the speakers it was a chance for us to see lots of people we knew and catch up on a personal and professional basis.

The conference started on the Sunday and my eldest son was due to go back to school on Monday. As soon as my elder son got the chicken pox all our childcare started to fall through because people were concerned that either he or my baby (who was potentially a carrier of it) would pass it on.

Now people often ask me as a Three Principles teacher ‘if you trust that everything works out as it should.- Does that mean you sit around and let life happen to you?’ The answer to this question lies in how I responded to this situation. – I desperately wanted to go to the conference and resolved to do everything I could to make this happen but I was not attached to the outcome. What I mean by this is that deep down I knew that if it didn’t work out then that was meant to be. So when we found out that the various people who had been lined up to look after the kids couldn’t do it at very short notice, I didn’t panic, feel sorry for myself or get upset – I just set about finding someone who could.

After several phone calls I managed to find someone for the Monday and Tuesday to look after our one year old but not for the Sunday to look after both of them. – So we decided that I would stay home and my husband would go since he could only take Monday off work. I was fine with this and had a really lovely day with the kids. -Venturing to the local park where I met someone who had recently started a business doing baby massage locally. – So a very helpful contact for me as I’m keen to continue to teach mums of babies The 3 Principles in a way that works for them.

I went to the conference on the Monday only to find out at 3pm that the person looking after our baby could no longer look after him on the Tuesday. She recommended her sister so I visited her on the way home to see what she was like. Then I took my baby there the next day and only once I felt comfortable that he was happy, attended the conference.

The conference was a richer experience as a result because I truly appreciated every moment I was there. This experience humbled me as I saw that we are never really in control and that is OK. The pressure for things to work out as we want comes from us and us alone. Therefore the feelings and the drama that get associated with this like disappointment, upset, anger come from us alone also – not the situation.  If we are able to drop this and open to new possibilities who knows what can arise and if they don’t then that’s Ok too.

I will speaking on Wednesday 8 July at 8pm in Queens Park on ‘There is Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself’ . It would be great to see you there. To find out more click here.

Contemplating Reality – Lessons From Sick Days Off School

Contemplating Reality - Lesson from sick days off schoolMy 3 year old was off school with a bug last week. It started with him throwing up in the middle of the night so we kept him home a day. Then he was well again so we sent him back to school but they sent him straight back because he had a temperature. That afternoon he was lively as anything. The day after he was very weak and lay on the sofa feeling really poorly. – To the degree that if the slightest thing went wrong – like the milk evaporated into his Weetabix in the wrong way I was in trouble! Meanwhile the baby now 10 months was in classic maniac mode – cruising round our living room like a mountaineer discovering new terrain without a safety harness. – So lots of tears there too!

Even though this lasted only a few days I really got a new appreciation for what Syd Banks could have meant when he said “The brain acts like a computer. Whatever you put into it is all you get out.“* I noticed I would go into the kitchen to ‘do something/take a breather/have a sneaky bit of chocolate’ and I would start to think about being desperate to get out of the house so I would feel claustrophobic.  Then I would be in the living room with the kids and I would start to think about all the work I had to do to get the questionnaire I was creating about ‘the emotional support available to parents of babies’ done and I would start to have feelings of impatience and stress. I would then not buy into these and they would pass naturally and then I’d be back with the children seeing how cute they were and feeling love and compassion again. Continue reading

Lessons From A Bottle Feeding Mum – How To Have Peace Of Mind When Life Doesn’t Work Out As You’d Expected Or As You’d Like

Getting over our beliefs about bottle feedingBefore I start this article I want to state for the record that I really believe in both natural birth and breastfeeding, they just weren’t meant to be for me. By sharing what I learnt from my experiences I hope that this will help give comfort to women who are struggling after having a baby, whatever challenges they are facing.

My first baby was back to back and was born eventually after a 4 day labour by emergency caesarean. Thanks to getting fit before the birth and having a degree of understanding about Innate Health  I was able to see the labour as a moment by moment experience and not be fearful about it. Therefore I was fine about the birth and had no negative thinking or feelings about it afterwards. It was the shock of trying to breastfeed and not being able to that really affected me.

I was so exhausted from the birth I wasn’t producing enough milk so he got jaundice in hospital and I had to start topping him up with formula. We took him home and I sought out lots of breastfeeding support and started on the road of obsessively pumping through the night to try and produce more milk to satisfy his ever increasing needs. In the meantime we fed him via various methods from cups to finger feeding (with a syringe) a mix of formula and breast milk. In the meantime I became so determined to breastfeed to the extent that this became my focus to the detriment of my relationship with my baby and my husband.

Unfortunately all this thinking and obsessing about breastfeeding really affected my state of mind to the degree that I didn’t speak to my friends or really leave the house for about 5 weeks until after he was born. Eventually I felt I couldn’t try anymore and so gave up. This left me feeling very guilty and upset that I had let my baby down for a long time after, as I felt I had not been able to provide for my baby in a natural way. Eventually after about a year a half of seeing my baby was just as healthy as everyone else’s I made peace with myself about it and realised the baby would be absolutely fine.

I have since spoken to mothers who have breastfed successfully but found it very difficult for various reasons, be it mastitis or whatever complications, who managed to carry on but also felt equally effected by the experience. Someone even told me they had extreme feelings of guilt having breast fed successfully for one year but had to give up because they had to go back to work.

With my second baby I tried again for a natural birth but never went into labour so ended up with another cesarean. Again my baby fed well in hospital but was too hungry and I couldn’t provide what he needed so I had to top up with formula. Again I got breastfeeding support and again I hired a pump and pumped when I could. The difference was that this time I realised that maintaining a healthy state of mind and building the bond with my baby as well as looking after my toddler was more important than obsessing about breastfeeding. I did what I could when I could but to no avail, so I ended up with another bottle fed baby. I made peace with myself very quickly this time because I realised I was only hurting myself with my thinking about feeling guilty and he would be absolutely fine.

The reason I’m writing this is to say that it’s not breastfeeding or bottle feeding that is the problem. It’s what we do to ourselves by taking our thinking and ‘our beliefs’ so seriously and judging ourselves that’s the problem. While I experienced the prejudices of people against bottle feeding I know breastfeeding mothers experience prejudice about their choices as well. We can internalise this and get upset about it or we can just let it wash over us and let it pass, because the more we internalise it and take it seriously the more we are hurting ourselves and no one else.

This experience helped me to see that beliefs are just thinking that we take very seriously. They are not right or wrong. As Grayson Perry says in one of his tapestries ‘Hold your beliefs lightly’. – This is something that thanks to this experience I am learning to do.

When you care passionately about something and life doesn’t work out for you in the way that you’d anticipated, it’s very compelling to beat yourself up for it, which leads to enduring feelings of guilt. By doing this you are only hurting yourself and prolonging the pain. If you can learn to accept that we all do the best we can in any given moment (given what we know at the time) and that none of us are ultimately in control, no matter how much we’d like to be. – Then you can make peace with circumstances you find difficult in your life rather than keeping them alive with your thinking and prolonging your pain.

Get in touch
If what I’ve written resonates with you and you would like some postnatal support via Skype or in person get in touch to find out about one-to-one sessions either by calling me on 07901 514 113 or filling out the form below.